Even as the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus, with cases crossing the 7 million mark, including 402,699 deaths, New Zealand on Monday announced it had eliminated the disease after health officials said the last known infected person had recovered. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.
It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, during which time an additional 40,000 people have been tested, and Monday also marked the first time since February when there has been no active cases, AP reported.
However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said border controls would not be lifted even though the government is set to roll back all containment measures.
“We can hold public events without limitations. Private events such as weddings, functions and funerals without limitations. Retail is back without limitations. Hospitality is back without limitations. Public transport and travel across the country is fully opened,” she said at a news conference.
The South Pacific nation had imposed 75 days of restrictions, including about seven weeks of a strict lockdown in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay at home.
“While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone. We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” Ardern said.
Even as the South Pacific nation of about 5 million people is emerging from the pandemic, big economies such as Brazil, Britain, India and the United States are still seeing daily spike in cases. Besides New Zealand, eight other smaller nations have successfully managed to stamp out Covid-19.
Montenegro, which was the last European country to report a case of Covid-19, had declared itself free of the virus on May 24. Its first case was reported on March 17, and its total numbers reached 324. Besides making masks mandatory, the nation of 622,359 people had closed businesses and placed limits on public gatherings and travel. Last week, the country threw open its land borders with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania.
The East African country with a population of 6 million announced it had zero active cases on May 15. The country had 39 Covid-19 cases. Its first case – a resident returning from Norway – was reported on March 21 and in April, the country went into lockdown.
Papua New Guinea
The Pacific nation declared itself free of the novel coronavirus on May 4 after the first case was detected on March 20. The country of 8.9 million people reported only eight cases. Papua New Guinea had banned travellers from Asia and closed its border with Indonesia. The government also introduced tough curbs, including a night curfew and bans on public gatherings and public transport.
Seychelles reported just 11 cases of Covid-19 and and all of them have since recovered. The country of 97,096 people reported its first two cases on March 14. Wasting no time, Seychelles announced a temporary ban on cruise ships, along with any travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. A travel ban came into effect on April 8.
Holy See announced that it had zero Covid-19 cases on June 6 after all of its 12 cases recovered from the disease. The tiny jurisdiction within Rome acted swiftly, closing its tourist attractions.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
The West Indies nation became free of Covid-19 on May 19, when all of its 15 confirmed cases recovered. With a population of just 52,441, Saint Kitts and Nevis recorded its first cases on March 24. As part of containment measures, the state had closed its airports, schools and non-essential businesses, besides ordering a curfew and mandatory wearing of masks.
Fiji declared itself free of Covid-19 by April 20 after all of its 18 cases recovered. The nation had reported its first case on March 19. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama banned flights from certain countries, imposed a 15-day mandatory quarantine for people arriving and closed schools and non-essential businesses.
On May 15, East Timor reported the recovery of its 24th and final confirmed case. The country had put travel restrictions for non-nationals who had visited China as early as February 10. The island country in south-east Asia reported its first case on March 21, which prompted school closures, public gatherings limited to five and all international arrivals to be quarantined for 14 days.
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